After a nine-month hiatus from executions, Texas is set to execute Derrick Sonnier tonight for two Houston murders for which he was convicted in 1993. Texas officials have scheduled 12 executions between now and the end of the year, reclaiming Texas’ place as the nation’s most active death penalty state.
Texas also leads the country in the number of inmates exonerated by DNA testing after serving years in prison for crimes they didn’t commit, and last week brought DNA proof of a death row inmate’s innocence. Innocence Project client Michael Blair has been on Texas’s death row for 14 years for a murder he has always maintained he didn’t commit. Prosecutors agreed with the Innocence Project in requesting that Blair’s conviction be tossed, and a judge ruled that the request should move forward. The state’s highest criminal court could now fully exonerate Blair from death row.
In an op-ed in yesterday’s Austin American-Statesman, the sister of Carlos De Luna wrote that her brother was executed in Texas two decades ago for a crime he didn’t commit and that she believes Texas hasn’t learned critical lessons from her brother’s case.
Unfortunately, in the 19 years since his execution, the numerous problems that led to his wrongful conviction have never been addressed and continue to plague the Texas capital punishment system. With executions in the state about to resume, I hope that legislators and the courts will learn lessons from my brother's story.
Read Rose Rhoton’s full op-ed here
. (Austin American-Statesman, 06/02/08)
Background on the Michael Blair case
Grist for Breakfast:
Texecutions resume tonight
Previous Innocence Blog posts:
Supreme Court decides lethal injection case
As executions resume in U.S., so does the risk of executing the innocent